Rutherford School - 26/06/2014

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

The school is welcoming and inclusive, with shared community values and a commitment to bicultural practice and the celebration of diversity. Every student is supported to experience success and the majority of students achieve well. Collaborative leadership and effective governance and self review contribute to sustainable practice and ongoing improvement.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Rutherford School is next to Rutherford College on the Te Atatu Peninsula, in West Auckland, and caters for students in Years 1 to 6. More than 30 nationalities are represented in the school and about half of the students are of Māori or Pacific descent. The school’s vision and values are clearly reflected in school-wide practices that show the commitment of the board and staff to inclusion, bicultural practice and celebrating diversity.

A welcoming atmosphere, inclusive practices and a sense of community are longstanding features of the school. The board of trustees and principal have continued to build on this strong foundation, after an unsettled period prior to ERO’s 2011 review. Together, they are re-establishing community relationships, promoting the wellbeing of students and their families, and creating a culture of success and shared leadership. Students’ families are becoming more involved in providing support and many have generational connections with the school.

The principal, who was appointed in 2011, has skilfully led an increasingly cohesive leadership team and a collaborative school-wide approach to school development. Since 2011, the deputy principal has taken on a full-time leadership role and a new associate principal has been appointed to lead the senior school.

The board, leadership team and staff have high levels of commitment to including and supporting all students. Whānau and staff report that students benefit from the presence of the Arohanui Special School satellite class on site. The layout of classrooms, and purposeful connections with early childhood services, the intermediate school and Rutherford College, all promote tuakana/teina relationships and help cement a strong sense of whānau and community.

The board has supported leaders, teachers and support staff to participate in a variety of professional learning and development opportunities. In 2014 professional development is focused on better use of individual students’ assessment information to support learning.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Achievement information is used well by the board, leaders, and increasingly by teachers, to make decisions about resourcing, achievement targets and teaching strategies. The school’s internal and publicly available data includes the achievement of students with special education needs. It shows that the majority of students achieve at levels that are at or above the National Standards and make good progress over their time at the school. Māori and Pacific students achieve well and school data shows that Pacific students achieve particularly well in reading.

Effective systems are well used to track the progress of individuals and groups of students. Leaders and teachers carefully monitor the progress of students with special education needs and those who are at risk of not achieving to their potential. They know students and many of their families very well. As a result, classroom programmes can be adapted and personalised so that they better support students to experience success.

Highly quality inclusive practices ensure that students with special education needs are well supported to experience success in their learning. A variety of interventions and cross-agency support helps the school to respond to the needs of individual students and their families. Teacher aides are highly valued and make a significant contribution to teaching and learning and to the school’s inclusive culture.

School leaders and teachers recognise that relationships with students and families are key to fostering learning. Strategies for supporting new students to transition into the school and for promoting students’ interest in their learning are carefully planned. Most students focus well in their classrooms. They are caring and supportive and relate well with each other in the playground. Their incremental progress and small successes are celebrated throughout the year. Student leaders are confident and articulate and represent the school well. They have good opportunities to contribute to school self review and decision making.

Some examples of particularly high quality teaching practice are evident in the school. The leadership team is building on these strengths to help promote greater consistency of good practice across the school and to increase:

  • the use of assessment information to help teachers personalise programmes for students
  • students’ knowledge about their own progress, achievements and next steps for learning.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum promotes student learning effectively. It reflects the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and is clearly based on the school’s vision, values and community. Students and their whānau appreciate the broad range of learning experiences that the Rutherford curriculum provides.

Meaningful study topics increase students’ understanding of their immediate community and environment and make connections with global concerns. The school’s commitment to bicultural practice is increasingly integrated in the curriculum. Teachers are well supported to increase their confidence in including te reo and tikanga Māori as part of the everyday curriculum.

The board has led the development of a Pasifika Education Plan to strengthen relationships with Pacific families so that they can better support their children’s learning and achievement. A successful after-school Home Learning Club has been established as part of the Pacific Leadership group’s strategy. The group is reviewing the extent to which Pacific themes are visible across the curriculum.

The school continues to review and adapt its curriculum through ongoing self review and community consultation. Teachers’ engagement with professional learning is increasing their shared understanding of and commitment to the values and implementation of the Rutherford curriculum. They are becoming more confident to critique their practice, individually and as a group, with a focus on accentuating positive achievements and continually making improvements.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school has a conscious and purposeful commitment to practices that support Māori students to have pride in their cultural heritage and success in their learning.

Māori students benefit from the tuakana/teina relationships that are promoted throughout the school. Senior students are confident in leadership roles. The school and Māori students also benefit from the high levels of commitment and leadership of key teachers.

The school’s vision is underpinned by the whakatauki ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata’. The vision is expressed in the concepts of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, ako and tūrangawaewae. The charter and school practices reflect the principles of Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education’s strategy for accelerating success for Māori students.

Kaumātua and whānau support the school to ensure that the tikanga is appropriate to the mana of Te Kawerau a Maki. Whānau on the Te Atatu peninsula descend from many different iwi. They value the school’s inclusive practices and sense of community, and contribute to events and activities in a variety of ways.

The board and principal recognise that their regular consultation with whānau could be better documented. It should also include more specific information about policies, plans and targets for increasing success for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and continue building on current good practices. Respectful and caring relationships, and an inclusive school culture, are special features of the school. The board and school leaders have established effective partnerships with whānau and community.

The board works collaboratively with increasingly cohesive leadership and teaching teams. Trustees respond to and have high levels of commitment to the school community. They are well informed and provide a clear sense of purpose and direction. Longstanding board members provide continuity and knowledge of the school’s history. They encourage and support others to become involved and have recently co-opted a Pacific trustee. The board has responded well to the Ministry of Education’s Ka Hikitia strategy and its Pasifika Education Plan.

The principal provides effective, inclusive leadership. She purposefully builds on teachers’ strengths to increase leadership capability across the school. External advice and networks are used effectively to support school development and to help create a dynamic learning community.

Strategic planning is well established and regularly monitored. Self review is used effectively to inform decisions about resourcing, programmes and initiatives aimed at improving students’ wellbeing and levels of achievement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes and records relating to provision for past international students are thorough.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

To improve current practice, the principal and teachers should continue to refine the ways that they report in writing and in plain language, to students and their parents, about the students’ progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

Conclusion

The school is welcoming and inclusive, with shared community values and a commitment to bicultural practice and the celebration of diversity. Every student is supported to experience success and the majority of students achieve well. Collaborative leadership and effective governance and self review contribute to sustainable practice and ongoing improvement.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

26 June 2014

About the School

Location

Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1478

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

212

Number of international students

0

Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Chinese

Fijian

Indian

Tongan

Tuvaluan

African

Cook Island Māori

Filipino

Samoan

German

Korean

Niue

Other Asian

Other

25%

35%

5%

5%

5%

5%

4%

2%

2%

2%

2%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

Special Features

Arohanui special school satelite class

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

26 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2011

May 2008

July 2005